NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WCBI Sports/AP) – Jeff Scott ran 75 yards for a touchdown with 1:07 left, and Ole Miss rallied twice Thursday night to beat Vanderbilt 39-35 in a wild season opener for both teams.
Vanderbilt went up 35-32 on a 34-yard TD pass from Austyn Carta-Samuels to Stephen Scheu with 1:30 left. But Scott beat the Commodores for a TD and the fourth lead change.
Vanderbilt had a final chance to extend the Southeastern Conference’s longest winning streak, but Cody Prewitt intercepted a pass off Jordan Matthews’ hands with 26 seconds left. That allowed the Rebels to snap a three-game skid to Vanderbilt.
Bo Wallace keyed the Rebels’ rally from 11 points down running for two touchdowns and connecting with highly touted freshman Laquon Treadwell for the 2-point conversion.
The Commodores gave up 29 points in the second half, their most since allowing 20 to Florida in their last loss Oct. 13. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Vanderbilt before its first sellout in a home season opener since 1996 against Notre Dame.
Coach Hugh Freeze came in with possibly the best recruiting class in Ole Miss history, and he put some of them on the field in their first game. Treadwell caught a team-high nine passes for 82 yards, and freshman tight end Evan Engram had five catches for 61 yards.
Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the consensus No. 1 player coming out of high school, started and also ran for 11 yards on a fake punt on fourth-and-1 late in the first half.
But it was Scott, a senior, who provided the biggest play of the game. He took a handoff and beat a defensive lineman to the edge, and he outraced the Commodores to the end zone. Andre Hal had one last chance to trip him up at the 20 but couldn’t bring Scott down. Scott finished with 138 yards on 12 carries.
Wallace was 31 of 47 for 283 yards, and backup quarterback Barry Brunetti ran for two TDs.
Carta-Samuels threw for 300, and Matthews finished with 10 catches for 178 yards. Junior Kyle Woestmann had two of Vanderbilt’s four sacks by halftime, but the Commodores didn’t get to Wallace in the second half.
Ole Miss took advantage of the Commodores’ early mistakes and led 10-0. Vanderbilt answered with 21 straight points.
Freeze even went for it on fourth-and-1 late in the first half, with Nkemdiche taking the snap as the up back. The consensus No. 1 recruit coming out of high school ran 11 yards for the first down. The Rebels ran out of time, and Andrew Ritter’s 55-yard field goal attempt was short and right.